When asked what the stereotypical image of the French is, most people could probably tell you a few things they associate with French people, most of which are fairly negative. This article will debunk these myths and make you see the French in a new light.
The French are rude
The common stereotype of the French is that they’re rude or standoffish, especially with strangers. This comes down to cultural customs, however. While Brits are taught from a young age that it’s important to be polite and smile at strangers, this is not so important in France. The French smile when they really mean it. So, if you come across a French person you don’t know and wonder why they don’t smile back at you, don’t think them rude.
The French always say ooh-la-la
French people do use this phrase, but not quite in the way that we imagine them too. The syllables are not long and drawn out, and the tone is not over the top as we might think. While the stereotype has it that the French say ooh-la-la when faced with some kind of naughtiness or nudity, in fact it’s more likely to be used when they’re quite impressed by something.
The French all wear berets
Many people will have an image of a Frenchman wearing a beret and a striped shirt with a French loaf under one arm. Needless to say, this is very exaggerated and isn’t a common sight on the streets of Paris or Lyon. Actually, hardly any French people really wear berets.
The French won’t tolerate badly spoken French
Another commonly spread myth about French people is that they can’t bear to hear their beautiful, romantic-sounding language butchered by the tongue of a language learner. However, this is not the case. Many students report back positively about their experience of speaking with French locals.
They say that the French are polite, encourage you along when you get stuck, and don’t feel the need to correct every mistake you make. Just as with anywhere that you go, locals appreciate the effort that you make to speak their language.
So the moral is, don’t let these myths about the French put you off going to France and making friends with French people, and don’t let them stop you from learning the language.